Sunday 4 December 2016

New on Netflix: Shining the Spotlight on top-class journalism

Spotlight, Available from Wednesday

Donal Lynch

Published 20/06/2016 | 02:30

Crack team: Investigative journalists take on a clerical cover-up in Spotlight, with Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo.
Crack team: Investigative journalists take on a clerical cover-up in Spotlight, with Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo.

Since the moment it arrived in theatres in 1976, Alan J Pakula's All the President's Men has been held up, and probably rightly so, as the gold standard of journalism dramas. Network, which came later was incredible too and every hack should see Broadcast News. Now Spotlight, Tom McCarthy's gripping behind-the-scenes tale of the Boston Globe's child abuse exposes makes the debate as to the all time great journalism movie an even more interesting one. It arrives at an interesting time - as traditional print media endures its worst period in history - and serves as a reminder of the vital importance of an independent, professional press to any community.

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The work of journalistic investigation can be dull and laborious, and difficult to inject drama into, but the film makes it fascinating anyway, because you understand how high the stakes are and what the journalists are searching for (the movie itself is an incredible example of clear, precise storytelling).

And the deeper the reporters get into their investigation, the more interesting their findings become. Spotlight is peppered with great supporting performances and with the swiftness with which it has come from the big screen to streaming it moves things closer to Netflix's stated goal of having the same offerings in the cinema as on your laptop (legally, that is). This film plays out at the pace of a thriller and is definitely a summer highlight.

Archer Season 7

10 episodes, available from Thursday

The creator of this series, Adam Reed, once said that Archer is "James Bond meets Arrested Development". The hotly-awaited seventh season of FX's spy-comedy marks a change of career for self-absorbed special agent Sterling Archer. After being fired by the CIA at the end of the last series, he relocates to LA with a group of his colleagues to start his own private detective's agency, from where he aims to become the world's greatest espionage agent. His chief nemeses are his hatchet-y mother - yes, he's a certifiable mother's boy - Malory, who runs a spoof ISIS, and his ex-girlfriend, agent Lana. The sex jokes will be a little off colour for some, but Archer nevertheless displays more wit than most satires and also goes some way toward beefing up Netflix's comedy offering.

The Fundamentals Of Caring

Available from Thursday

God how we love Paul Rudd in anything. Especially in this heart- warming optimistic road movie, a witty and at times very funny tragi-comedy bromance between Craig Roberts' wheelchair-bound teenager, who has muscular dystrophy, and Rudd as his carer. Writer-director Rob Burnett, adapting Jonathan Evison's The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, finds gems of comedy which are thin on the ground in your typical, maudlin accounts of degenerative diseases. Unsurprisingly this film was met with a warm reception at Sundance (although a less warm reception amongst critics). Well worth a look.

It Happened One Night

Available now

Frank Capra's screwball romantic comedy is part of any cinephile's library. The plot follows a wealthy it-girl (Claudette Colbert) who falls for an out-of-work journalist (Clark Gable). It was the first film ever to win the 'big five' Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay). The escapist theme of the film, perfectly struck the mood of the American public during the Depression Era, when it came out. While the film is often cited as being the first screwball comedy to really do well at the box office there was much more to its appeal than slapstick.

It is a reversal of the Cinderella story (the heroine rejects her wealthy lifestyle), a modern tale with light-hearted sex appeal in which courtship and love triumph over class conflicts, socio-economic differences, and verbal battles of wit. Perfect for a duvet day.

Catch up now

Emily Hourican

Boris v Dave: The Battle For Europe

Channel 4 On Demand, until June 24

As we count down to the Brexit referendum on Thursday, here's another chance to see Michael Crick's effort to throw some light on the great frenemies of the moment, David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Despite there not being nearly enough one-on-one with either man, this is an entertaining look at their similarities of background - Eton, Oxford - and political outlook. Crick makes a good case for expediency being the prime mover for both. Boris, himself the product, briefly, of the European School in Brussels, never said a bad word about Europe until it served his purpose to do so, while Cameron has historic form in that regard but is currently of course on the side of the angels. As always, the real entertainment is in the growing personal animosity between the two.

The Good Wife

RTE Player, last episode, until July 1st

After seven seasons, this is the last ever episode of The Good Wife. And so, farewell to Alicia Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies, a character who was flawed, compelling, fascinating. The last episode, unsurprisingly, steers clear of too many pat endings and neatly-tied plot lines. Instead, we are left wondering, as always, what Alicia will do next, and specifically, whether her future is with Peter or Jason. With regret, we say farewell.

Na Cloigne

TnaG Player, season 1, episodes 1-3

This three-part supernatural thriller was first broadcast in 2010 and later compiled into a full-length feature film. Here is a chance to watch it in the original episodes. Directed by Robert Quinn, and starring Dara Devaney, Barry McGovern and Siobhan O'Kelly, this tells the story of a young couple, Sean and Nuala. Nuala is a painter, subconsciously attuned to the Otherworld, while Sean is a philanderer who brings two young women home for a nightcap after a drunken night in the pub. The next morning, he wakes up with his clothes soaked in blood and no recollection of what happened.

Podcasts

Emily Hourican

On Being

www.onbeing.org

For those inclined to ponder life's 'Big Questions,' Krista Tippett's On Being series is the place to begin, or continue. The Peabody Award-winning podcasts are part of an on-going conversation around the way we choose to live, started by Tippett, a New York Times best-selling author. Launched in 2003, the dense archive now includes pieces such as David Whyte, poet, philosopher and close friend of the late John O'Donohue, who believes in the power of a "beautiful question," and the way in which the poetry and mysticism of Rumi has shaped Muslims around the world.

Radio Gorgeous

www.radiogorgeous.com

This UK-based talk radio was created by Josephine Pembroke "for bold, intelligent and vibrant women," and is an all-female zone, with content that ranges from author interviews, to recipes, documentaries, travel pieces and much more. So Maggie O'Farrell talks about her latest book, This Must Be The Place, while Margi Ross considers the idea of what happens after feminism, and Ruby Wax asks 'Are You Frazzled?' Smart, thoughtful and entertaining.

The Nutrition Diva

www.acast.com/nutritiondiva

Part of the Quick and Dirty Tips series, Monica Reinagel, aka The Nutrition Diva, suggests some quick and fairly painless ways to upgrade your eating habits, as well as deconstructing the latest diet fads. If you have heard of Paleo, or hydroponic vegetables, but aren't exactly sure what either are, this is a start.

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